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Can I play funk without slap?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by AdamK, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. AdamK


    Jan 24, 2015

    So this question has been on my mind for a little while now. My friends and I seem to enjoy and be good at funk music, and I don't exactly play funk all the time. I can't do slap and I don't wish to learn. It's just not my thing. However, I have seen some bass players play funk perfectly fine by just playing regularly, no slap. Would it be reasonable to play funk bass without slapping at a "funk band" level? Any certain techniques with the bass or amp itself to get around doing slap for the best funk sound? Just wondering for the sake of playing this genre with friends and in gigs.

    Oh, by the way, I think if I really want to pursue funk I'm definitely gonna need to get a second bass, like a Fender P-bass w/ rounds, that doesn't have flats and isn't made for like classic rock and jam band stuff like my Epiphone Jack Casady.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
  2. bassrich


    Nov 20, 2011
    Sarasota, FL
    Most definitely, with the right pick and picking technique it is harder though
  3. AdamK


    Jan 24, 2015
    Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention I don't use a pick. And haven't learned to yet.
  4. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Ask george porter jr. :)
    Kael, adivin, vin*tone and 9 others like this.
  5. Funk was a round for a good while before slap showed up, so yeah, you don't need slap to be funky.
  6. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Ask Rocco Prestia
  7. AdamK


    Jan 24, 2015
    Nice! Except I'm wondering what's goin' on at 0:40 of his solo here:

    He also shows off his slap skills here:
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
    carsbybigd and FlatwoundFunk like this.
  8. yes. funk doesn't require slap and just cuz ya slap don't mean ya funky.

    give a listen to early Chili Peppers, the 80's stuff. Not a whole lotta slapping but very groovy funky stuff. IMHO
  9. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    I don't recall James Brown's bass players doing much in the way of slapping.
  10. Pelao


    Dec 7, 2014
    From my experience, it seems that people who don't slap see slap as a separate entity of playing.

    To me, slap is about a timbral change that emphasizes the attack of notes. With that being said, learning how to control the tone using just fingers and discovering the spectrum available to you is what can give the bass line that "funk" sound, despite you not using your thumb.

    One style I've been using a lot for more defined higher range is a position similar to how you would hold a pick, and plucking with your first (and sometimes second finger) in an upwards motion. Setting my palm on the strings I can simulate the percussive thump, and the snap by turning my hand as if opening a door. I use this technique considerably when I want that precise attack without going into full out slap mode.

    And all of this is just for timbre. Of course, rhythm plays just as integral a part, though it should be noted that all funk rhythms can theoretically be played in any finger/pick/slap style and still have that defining "funk"
    gsquare, MaxJJK and HolmeBass like this.
  11. AdamK


    Jan 24, 2015
    Funny you mention that. I'm actually planning on playing Pass the Peas next week. The bass line seems pretty nice, and it's slap-free.
    HolmeBass and FlatwoundFunk like this.
  12. Mattrill

    Mattrill facebook.com/dayshazy

    Feb 20, 2015
    a p bass with flats will funk to the heaven and back
    england smith, iunno, AdamK and 4 others like this.
  13. FlatwoundFunk


    Apr 16, 2015
    Atlanta, Ga
    ***??? :woot::woot::woot::woot: After all these years, that's the first time I've seen Mr Porter thumpin' (slapping for those who identify it that way). THANK YOU for sharing those videos. I love Mr Porter's art and I must say that he is one of the three that made me say, ok I'm a do this.
    AdamK likes this.
  14. FlatwoundFunk


    Apr 16, 2015
    Atlanta, Ga
    Slap is a technique. Funk is a style of music. You can be stank ass funky with or without thumpin' (slapping).

    Also the type of bass and strings doesn't matter. It's all about how you fell when you bring the funk out. If you look at the pictures of the JB's (the band that the song Pass The Peas is listed under), dude has what appears to be a violin looking bass. PLus when you listen to the track very carefully, they sound like flats to me.

    I MIGHT be wrong but what is commonly identified as "funk" today, it began with a bassist playing on flats and those cats weren't slappin'.

    I believe Mr Bootsie Collins has a good video on youtube describing what funk is. Check it out. It's really helpfull
    Matthew_84, mikeyjm2, Joebone and 2 others like this.
  15. Spirit of Ox

    Spirit of Ox Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2012
    Chelsea Mass
    I don't recall Bootsy ever slapping. Supposedly he is the funkiest man in the world. Although T.M. Stevens has tried several times to dethrone him and failed.
  16. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    There are also guys like Doug Johns who've developed a fingerstyle technique that mimics the attack of slap playing (although he does slap sometimes also):

  17. butcher


    May 24, 2011
    Mattrill, SamJ, gebass6 and 5 others like this.
  18. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I think there are two issues here. Can you play funky without playing slap and can you play a song that has a slap baseline without playing slap.

    First, there are many examples already provided of funky players that don't use slap, so that question is answered.

    The second question, although I'm the last one that advocates playing everything note-for-note, I think that if the original recording has a slap bass line, especially if you are playing in a funk band, you should play it using the slap style. Just my 2 cents.
    jamro217, djasterix, tbz and 3 others like this.
  19. Can funk be played without slap? Yes.

    Can you play funk without slap?
    I don't know, can you?
    carsbybigd and FlatwoundFunk like this.
  20. Abrahampost


    Feb 22, 2013
    Just take a listen to Tower of Power, James Brown, The Meters, etc. I cover a few songs that require slapping but do not consider myself a master of the technique. I am not sure why beginner players associate slapping with funk music because to me funk is all about the pocket and the space the entire band leaves open.

    Check out Vulfpeck for a perfect example of this. Joe Dart is one hell of a bass player and that band just grooves so hard while doing so little.
    AdamK and FlatwoundFunk like this.

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